Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This is me headed out.

It's time for me to pack up my computer and head west.  Not only are we migrating over Labor Day weekend but apparently we have a slight tropical depression to deal with once we hit Missouri.  Lovely.  It's all about timing at this point and the luck of Mother Nature.  Fingers crossed Isaac takes a harder right than is originally planned.  Granted that whole area kind of needs rain at the moment.

Anyway the next time I post it'll be from my new temporary home in Arizona.  In the interim I'll be posting updates on Twitter and tumblr as I migrate because, well, it's a road trip and interesting things are bound to happen.  We're staying in rather Sam and Dean-ish hotels along the way in towns that people may or may not go to die.  So of nothing else it'll be interesting.  And I'll have a dog in the car with me.  He'll be my co-pilot.  So follow me if you want to be subject to some rather interesting updates.

I didn't get a chance to post any of my features these last couple of weeks and I wanted to get at least one more Shitty YA Boy Toys up but it'll have to wait.  Mayflower isn't moving my ass so, you know, I had to pack myself.  So bear with me and I'll be back to my regularly scheduled posting soon enough. Probably just in time to move again out of our temporary housing and into something semi-permanent.

See you all on the other side.

Funhouse by Diane Hoh

Published July 1, 1990.

Author website.

When the Devil's Elbow roller coaster goes off its track and several teenagers are hurt, everyone thinks it was just an accident. So no one listens when Tess says she saw someone tampering with the track. 

But one person knows it's true. That person is playing a deadly game - and is going to make sure Tess doesn't stand in the way. Tess soon finds she's being terrorized, with threatening notes, menacing phone calls, slashed tires, and nasty pranks. When another "accident" occurs in the Funhouse, Tess is sure that she was the intended victim. Who is committing all these horrifying acts? And why? 

Tess is just beginning to realize that the Funhouse can scare you death.  (

There are few things more awesome than cheese and FUNHOUSE certainly fit that mould nicely.  Not only that but I love reading un-updated works if for nothing more than the outdated styles of dress.  Boys in cutoff jeans?  Ha!  But I remember it.  Most of it would probably be pretty innocuous to the younger readers now simply because the descriptions aren't too detailed but every once in a while you'll get the little nugget of nostalgia that'll have you going 'yup.'  Love it.

FUNHOUSE combines two of my favorite things: horror and boardwalks.  Thanks Lost Boys.  You rear your mulleted head once again.  There just always seems to be something sinister underlying a carnival-like atmosphere.  I'm pretty sure it's the clowns.  Are the looking at the same cover I am?  So going in it had the proper ambiance for me to be nice and cozily happy.

The thing about a lot of these old school cheesy YA horror books is that there really isn't any supernatural involved; they're mostly thriller but the way they're written it could go either way.  This particular novel utilized pseudo-flashback pieces that involved a diary and insinuated at maybe a haunting.  Personally I think that's just enough to pull it all together.

Another common theme in the cheese is the novel having at least one character that you desperately wish would get hit by a bus.  They're just total shitbags that you can't help but wonder why they have friends at all.  Trudy was that person in FUNHOUSE.  She's just an all around nasty, negative human being that any normal person would probably drop like a bad habit.  But I guess because she's rich and all their daddies work together she's automatically lumped in with the rest.  Sucks for the rest of them.

Tess is the kind of heroine that I wish I saw more of in today's YA.  She has Sam (her perhaps/maybe-boyfriend) constantly trying to protect her but she's so adamant that she can take care of herself that I couldn't help but go yeah!  Granted she takes it to a point of it being a fault, especially when the events start getting drastic and her life appears to really be in danger but she wants to stand on her own two feet.  She don't need no man to protect her!  Yes!  Aside from that she is strong, wanting to solve the mystery behind all of these events even in the face of doubt and ridicule.  Everyone else things it's a string of unfortunate accidents (of course) but Tess knows better.  There are too many elements going on for any of it to be coincidental.

Hoh is one of the better old school YA horror writers.  She doesn't pander to her audience and just lets the story tell itself.  None of the dialogue feels contrived and the characters feel real to me.  Of course there's a bit of the melodrama going on and the entire plot centers around a bunch of rich kids but they're not obnoxious about it.  They don't flaunt their parents' wealth.  It's not a motivating factor in the story; they all just are and who their parents are just happen to be who their parents are.  It's not a card to play, which I liked.

FUNHOUSE is a great addition to my cheese library and one I'll probably re-read at some point in the future.  There's a classic feel to it, aside from the fact that the roller coaster is named The Devil's Elbow.  How . . . threatening?

Ban Factor: High - Teenagers are ruthlessly targeted by some unknown entity for deliverance of dire pain.  Oh no.  We just can't have that.  It's too much for them to take.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hana by Lauren Oliver

Published February 28, 2012.

Author website.

The summer before they're supposed to be cured of the ability to love, best friends Lena and Hana begin to drift apart. While Lena shies away from underground music and parties with boys, Hana jumps at her last chance to experience the forbidden. For her, the summer is full of wild music, dancing—and even her first kiss. 

But on the surface, Hana must be a model of perfect behavior. She meets her approved match, Fred Hargrove, and glimpses the safe, comfortable life she’ll have with him once they marry. As the date for her cure draws ever closer, Hana desperately misses Lena, wonders how it feels to truly be in love, and is simultaneously terrified of rebelling and of falling into line.  (

I had to go back over my review of DELIRIUM because for the life of me I can't remember much of anything from that book.  Apparently I really liked it (loved it is more on par there) and I was desperate to read more of the story. It's funny how tastes can change in such a short amount of time.  My DELIRIUM  review was posted about a year and a half ago.

That's not to say I wouldn't still like DELIRIUM if I read it again because my tastes don't change THAT drastically but having read far more like stories since I think I'd look at it with a different eye.  Yes, I'm still a fan of ROMEO & JULIET except I now know it's true point, and it's not all about star-crossed lovers.  I'm still a fan of non-douchey boys and even Oliver's writing.  But within the time since I've read DELIRIUM one major issue has been brought to my attention that would completely throw a wrench in the reality of the story - children growing up unloved by parents.  Really this would create a society of feral children.  Children can subsist in the mechanics of parenthood like feeding, changing, etc.  But love is a pretty huge factor in a kid's developmental years.  Just look at all those orphans in eastern Europe.  Removing love from society is far more detrimental to its well-being than it is beneficial.

So that's what I went in to HANA with, this reformed view of Oliver's word tickling my mind.  It wasn't a bad story but because I couldn't remember what really happened in DELIRIUM I had a hard time placing HANA so that was a nagging factor throughout.  Personal, obviously.  By the end I kind of remembered where it was because Hana encounters Lena after she received the dog bite so I have a vague idea of what and when.

Ultimately it was nice getting into Hana's head a bit and see her basically being scared straight.  She doesn't want to be cured but at the same time the thought of being caught rebelling is far too horrifying for her.  She's a really dynamic character that I do wish I'd seen more of in DELIRIUM (I'm assuming I didn't because she isn't really mentioned in my review but I do remember her).  I think there's more of a struggle there for her, more of a tear, than what Lena had.  Really I think she would have made a better MC than Lena.  Maybe I would have remembered more of DELIRIUM if that were the case.  It wouldn't have been so "standard" a story that way.  Not to mention there are so many other ways to approach someone like Hana because she's all aspects of the world: rebel and conformist.  She doesn't draw a hard line in the sand and it's really a struggle for her.  I would have liked to have seen her through her cure, to see if it really took, what her brain was like afterwards.

I enjoyed HANA, obviously.  I wasn't as thrilled with the writing as I appeared to be with DELIRIUM, especially the lack of contractions.  A lot of 'I am''s going around that annoyed me.  But it was a good glimpse of Hana and provided her with so much more depth.  I haven't read PANDEMONIUM yet but I hope she's in there more and it doesn't just focus on Lena.  And from HANA alone I was able to suspend my disbelief enough in the world to keep reading because I think everything else fit and there was an obvious care and craft to the world itself.  It didn't appear to be thrown together in a blender and spit out.  I can't say if that would hold true if I re-read DELIRIUM or tried to get into PANDEMONIUM though.

Ban Factor: High - Those kids rebelling against the system.  Can't have that, children thumbing their noses at adults.  Breeds malcontents!

Monday, August 27, 2012

2012 Horror and Urban Fantasy Reading Challenge COMPLETED!

Yup.  I'm done with another one.  It's nice to clean the clutter off of your plate just before a major move, let me tell you.  Here's my list that went ahead and completed the challenge for me.  It's rather liberating, really.  Now I just have three more slots to fill on the Off the Shelf Reading Challenge and one more to go for the Titanic Reading Challenge.  And 14 more books to read to complete my goal of 100 for the year.  I'm feeling rather confident right now.  It's pretty awesome when things have a tendency of falling into place.

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

Pub date: September 25, 2012.

Author website.

Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an "Inward Trek." As if that weren't bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of "infects" shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate "Zombie Rules" almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can't keep the biters back. Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won't see coming, here is a savvy tale that that's a delight to read -whether you're a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten-and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.  (

There really isn't much that Sean Beaudoin can do wrong.  His novels have a definitive signature that screams THIS IS SEAN BEAUDOIN.  It usually involves some level of noir, exceptional find-fuckage and a snarky cynicism that is like the brand of Sean on all of his books.  THE INFECTS fit nice and snugly into this mould although I have to say it's the least mind-fucked of the SB books I've read.  In fact it was downright tame in comparison to the likes of FADE TO BLUE.  But that doesn't mean it was bad.

Yes, THE INFECTS is a zombie novel but it's not your standard zombie novel.  It's not really a world-wide pandemic of zombie proportions and the zombies have a habit of evolving, thinking, picking the more favorable pieces of your body to eat as opposed to just chomping at random.  There are different levels of infected, from the full-on zombie to something a little more human to a lot more human to total meat sack meal.  This isn't a simple zombie novel despite the humor that Sean involves.  Yes, it's funny, but he's taken zombie lore and expanded it to something a bit more terrifying than just having to deal with your regular ol' shambling zombies.

Of course THE INFECTS has all the seriousness of a Simon Pegg movie, background events being carried out in a rather hilarious background humor fashion while the SERIOUS things happen in the foreground.  Never mind the guy running around with a severed arm in his mouth.  WHAT'S FOR LUNCH?  It is truly a Sean Beaudoin novel for that reason, along with the demented reality that takes it that many more steps away from being grounded.  It's not just a chicken restaurant but it's what everyone thinks of when they think of a chicken restaurant, the menu showcasing full servings for fried random chicken parts and a chicken surprise pack with some kind of unhealthy gravy mess.  It is as much of a satire as a satire can be even moving beyond the restaurant.  LIFE has elements of the familiar with added doses of ridiculous to elevate the story into the absurd but still managing to keep it relatable.  Everyone wants to survive the Zomb-A-Pocalypse, right?

Nick/Nero is the spearhead of the group, much to his chagrin.  His only objective is getting to Petal.  People just happen to want to follow him around while he completes it.  He's not comfortable with it but he makes due.  With Sean's books you don't necessarily have likable or unlikable characters; they either are characters or aren't.  It's all in the way they're written, that satirical pulp style that makes caricatures of everything, to one extent or another.  So you'll either think the characters are too far out there (like the twins) or they're readable (pretty much everyone else).  Unless they get killed.  And Sean has no qualms about putting the kibosh on the pulses of any of his characters.  So be warned: if you favor one more than the others, it'll probably end up with some teeth in its neck.

Reading this, though, I couldn't help but think there was some kind of message here, about over-processed and genetically engineered food, unhealthy eating habits, complacency in what we're being forced fed.  Messages aren't something I picked up on in other Sean books so it took me aback a bit.  Couple that with the relatively toned down (for him) style and I think it was a bit different from what Sean usually writes.  Not as wild and with more of a purpose, however slight.  Still incredibly enjoyable but veering off the path a little.

THE INFECTS is not your typical zombie novel, filled with atypical zombies and anti-heros and an ending that will make your head spin.  Sean's snark is not for the faint of heart and the satire is for those only able to take big blasts of the absurd at a time.  The level of mind fuck is lower than in previous books with the story being far more straight forward and the characters being more contoured and easy to grasp.  The subtleties of it are what will make you laugh, hidden in a well-timed background element in a greater scene.  It forces you to pay attention because you'll miss snippets of gloriousness if you're just reading it for what the surface provides.  If you like trippy, off the wall tales riddled with snark that will make you laugh and gag in the same sentence, you'll most likely love THE INFECTS.  It brings with it the familiarity of the zombie trope but Sean just comes right on in and fucks it all up.  But in a good way, like always.  And that's why I keep reading him.  Not only is he a fantastic storyteller but his voice is so epically unique that you can't help but latch onto it and drool love all over it.

Ban Factor: High - Zombies, lesbians, zombie sex, rabid fried chicken . . . what's in this book that the banners WON'T throw a shit fit about?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sleepless by Thomas Fahy

Published August 11, 2009.

Author website.

SOMEONE ELSE WILL DIE SOON she tells herself. 


A few days after the first time you walk in your sleep, you kill someone. That's how the end begins. 

Emma Montgomery has been having gruesome nightmares. Even worse, when she wakes up, she isn't where she was when she fell asleep. And she's not the only one. One by one the students of Saint Opportuna High start having nightmares, and sleepwalking. And the next morning one of their classmates turns up dead. 

Something is making them kill in their sleep. Emma and her friends need to band together, to keep themselves awake until they can figure out what's behind the murders--before anyone else dies.  (

There's a reason that NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, despite all of it's cheesiness, is, at its very core, frightening: because Freddie attacks people in their dreams, in their sleep, when they're at their most vulnerable.  SLEEPLESS also tapped into that inherent attack method and it's why I think, even despite my ultimate disconnect with the story, it's still scary.  Sleeping is something a person just can't not do.  You have to sleep but that's also where you're being attacked and there's nothing you can do to prevent it.  Anyone that doesn't think that's scary to at least some degree is lying.  Liars!

Don't get me wrong; I liked SLEEPLESS.  But there was something there keeping me from really connecting with the story, most likely the way it was told.  It was third person limited and flipped between Emma and Jake throughout the book but it wasn't necessarily the POV that did it.  I think it had more to do with the mechanical, almost dry execution of the story that kept me at bay.  It kept me interested but I've been interested in newspaper articles too.  It was more of a recounting of events with little effort at trying to make me scared.  For a horror novel that's a pretty big deal.  I WANT to be scared when I read horror.  That's why I read it.  Yeah, it's masochistic but quite frankly I liked being scared.  If horror doesn't scare me then it's failed it's most integral part.  I couldn't even feign frightened.  Yes, the things happening to the kids was scary but I didn't feel it.  I just read the story and carried on.

The New Orleans event laced throughout the book dragged on a bit too long without coming to its useful point.  I get the technique but I don't think it worked to the story's advantage here.  Of course it kept me reading but I was more annoyed with it toying with me than anything else.  I wanted to know HOW it was relevant and it kept teasing me for chapters.  I was irked.  It ultimately wove itself in but it didn't end up being what I thought it could be.  It slid down a more more cliched route that ended up being a bit contrived.  No vengeance or cover-ups or anything like that.  The ending was really ho-hum and a bit of a disappointment.

I liked Emma and Jake as characters.  They were both probably the best parts of the book.  They were just really well-fleshed out characters that I felt came alive on the page.  I believed their actions, their words and how they made everything unfold around them.  It worked.  I think SLEEPLESS could have been an amazing horror story if the rest of the elements around Jake and Emma were as finely tuned as they were, not to mention the story would have been better if it ended up being something BIGGER than what it was.  Again, disappointment, but Jake and Emma were good, with Emma taking the lead despite everything going against her.  She was the glue of the group, making things happen instead of waiting for them to happen.  If I knew I was about to kill someone in my sleep I'd like to think I'd take the same initiative and do something about it instead of just cowering in the corner.  No cowering for Emma.  Always a plus.

I think someone not as attuned to horror would find SLEEPLESS far scarier than I did but seeing how desensitized to it I am it fell kind of flat in the scare department.  I wish it were scarier for me because it would have been amazing!  I liked almost everything I was reading.  All that was missing was me being scared.  But it had just enough elements (like the execution of the voice) going against that amazingness to bring it down to something that was decent to read but didn't instill the horror like it should have.  It will make you think twice about sleeping, and watching slides, I'm sure but the ending didn't lend itself to anything greater than another teen horror cliche.  I liked it but that's about it.

Ban Factor: High - Kids are dropping dead all over this novel, not to mention there's some boob grabbing of the unmarried variety as well.  The banners would squeal.

Added to the Pile + 120

Just one lone book this week through NetGalley.  When I read the blurb I found out I had a kinship with it because I mean, really, who DOESN'T feel this way when they're younger?  And perhaps now?

MORE by TM Franklin

Ava Michaels used to think she was special.

As a child, she fantasized about having magical powers . . . making things happen. But Ava grew up and eventually accepted the fact that her childish dreams were just that, and maybe a normal life wasn't so bad after all.

Now a young college student, Ava meets Caleb Foster, a brilliant and mysterious man who’s supposed to help her pass Physics, but in reality has another mission in mind. What he shows Ava challenges her view of the world, shaking it to its very core.

Because Caleb isn't quite what he seems. In fact, he's not entirely human, and he's not the only one.

Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bound to protect humans, but only after protecting their own secrets—secrets they fear Ava may expose. Fighting to survive, Ava soon learns she's not actually normal . . . she's not even just special.

She's a little bit more.  (

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ban This! 2012

Holy crap.  Year four of Ban This!  (2009, 2010, 2011)  Out of the four years I've done this I've been able to actively participate in my own event twice.  In 2010 I was away on vacation for half the month and this year I'm making a meager 2,500 mile move across the country so needless to say I will be a bit pre-occupied.  Just not pre-occupied enough to forget Ban This!  No way.

Ban This! is me taking it upon myself to extend ALA's Banned Books Week for the entire month of September to bring awareness to all that is ridiculous about banning books.  That's not to say it can't be done throughout the year because banners never sleep but September seems like a good month to use as a focus what with the event at the end of the month and schools just starting up and all.  To me it just wouldn't feel like September without some mention of book bannings and challenges.

Nothing extensive is required of anyone that wants to participate in Ban This!  By attaching the badge to your site you're promising to promote banned and challenged books in some fashion throughout the month of September however you see fit.  In the past I've reviewed banned and challenged books, had authors guest post about banned books in general and, in some cases, their own banned books, waxed poetic about the wankery of book banning, among other things.  The point is to not be silenced, to not let the cranky, petulant few that insist on parenting EVERYONE rip books out of the hands of children (and adults!) for their own selfish reasons.

I'm a little upset that I need to step back from my own event this year but I know, as book bloggers, this is something we won't stay silent about, whether it's as part of Ban This! or just Banned Books Weeks in general.  Make posts, chat it up for #banthis, submit a read-out video, whatever.  Just be sure to be vocal.  Grab the button on the right and tell everyone to Ban This!  And leave me a note below just letting me know you're going to rock out with your banned books out in September.  (What'd you think I was going to say?  Perve.)

In Too Deep by Amanda Grace

Published February 8th, 2012.

Author website.

Carter didn't rape me. People at school think he did. Suddenly, new friends are rushing to my side, telling me that Carter hurt them, too. They say he's getting what he deserves. 

Maybe I don't want to fix this. 

Sam is in love with her best friend Nick, but she can't seem to tell him. So she decides to flirt with golden-boy Carter Wellesley, hoping Nick will see it and finally realize his true feelings for her.

On Monday, everyone at school is saying that Carter raped Sam. He didn't, but Sam can't find the words to tell the truth. Worst of all, she's afraid she'll lose Nick if he finds out what really happened. 

As graduation approaches, Sam discovers that living the lie isn't as easy as her new friends make it sound--and telling the truth might be even worse.  (

I thought I was going to get pretty enraged by IN TOO DEEP because I have some pretty strong feelings about girls crying rape but it wasn't too bad.  I think ultimately it was all handled really well, the protagonist went through a sufficient level of guilt and it wrapped itself up realistically so I really don't have any complaints.

IN TOO DEEP tackled all the relevant avenues that it could potentially go down, I think, from claimant guilt to what's happening to the guy to his future to her future to the repercussions to outward reactions in the face of the lie's reality and a bunch of things in between.  But it doesn't touch on how a lie about rape ultimately undermines a claim of rape.  In fairness it wasn't relevant to the plot but at the same time I do wish it was touched upon.  It's hard enough for women that were raped to come forward.  When a woman cries rape for her own gain it undermines the claim for all, making people that little bit less trustworthy of the next woman to claim she was raped because the last person they knew lied about it.  There is just no winning for anyone when rape is claimed when it didn't really happen and while IN TOO DEEP does touch upon most of it I do think it would have been just that little bit stronger if it broached undermining as well.

Irrespective of the lie it is pretty awful what Sam goes through when people believe it, especially at the hands of Carter's friends who believe his story blindly.  If it were true they'd still be doing the same thing and while it was rough to read something like that I think it's unfortunately accurate.  Rape is belittled constantly when it has actually happened so it's no surprise that Sam suffered the things she did at the hands of the buddies of her supposed rapist.

It's hard to say that Sam is a likable character because she cried rape and then perpetuated the lie due to peer pressure and a need for vengeance but I didn't dislike her.  I didn't find her reprehensible or a disgusting human being.  She's a girl that was scorned by an incredible douche bag.  That doesn't make what she did right but I think it explained enough to make me believe it, especially when the other girls bring in their own stories.  Yes, Carter was a douche and yes even I, reading this, felt just a little bit of joy seeing the high and mighty knocked from his pedestal.  But rape is a devastating tag and not even the biggest of douche bags deserve to have that kind of lie haunting them for the rest of their lives.  It only succeeds in ultimately turning the douche into a victim and garnering him sympathy.  Kind of the adverse effect.

I found the end wholly satisfying because everything worked out how I felt it should for everything that had happened.  For a while there I was a little afraid that it would tank, that I'd end up with another ACCOMPLICE that had me raging.  It didn't.  All of the repercussions you'd expect to happen do and it feels right.  Lessons are learned at great cost and life goes on for all.  Sickly sweet need not apply.  The end is rather ugly but it's deserved and what's even better Sam knows it and accepts it.

IN TOO DEEP delves into an aspect of a dark event that I don't think too many people do.  Everyone's always so focused on the real act of rape that they don't consider what an unsubstantiated accusation can do to someone.  I like it for it's difference in that regard.  That's not to impugn rape but look at it from another angle where things aren't what they seem.  The Duke lacrosse scandal is probably the most prominent example of something similar to IN TOO DEEP.  It's a good read and immensely satisfying, as odd as it sounds.  I'm a fan of characters suffering realistic repercussions for their actions.

Ban Factor: Medium - Reading would need to be involved in this one to find the references to high school sex and drinking.  On the surface it might not set off too many alarms although they may be intrigued to see how a liar suffers.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Author Bites - Eilis O'Neal on Commendable Love Interests

One of my favorite things about Eilis's THE FALSE PRINCESS was Kiernan.  He was Sinda's life-long friend and their relationship was a natural progression of that friendship.  Kiernan really loved Sinda but it wasn't a love to a fault.  He didn't try to protect her from herself, he didn't try to make decisions for her.  She was her own person, he recognized that and even when he really didn't want to he left her alone so she could do her own thing when she felt she needed to.  Of course I asked Eilis about this and she graciously offered up a post in response.  Here's Eilis waxing poetic about what makes a really awesome love interest (as opposed to an over-bearing, insta-love douche <--my words).  Thanks for stopping by, Eilis!

When I was twelve, I was going to marry George Cooper. Never mind that he was nearly twice my age, in love with someone else, and a thief. And especially never mind that he only existed in the pages of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness books. He was my first—though certainly not last—big book crush. And he’s continued to be, to my writer’s eye, a great example of a male love interest.

Male love interests were something I thought a lot about while writing my own YA fantasy novel, The False Princess. When done well, they can be absolutely wonderful—worthy companions for your main character and crush-worthy delights for the reader. When done poorly, they can pull your whole story apart. I definitely wanted Kiernan, my main character’s love interest, to be in the first group, but I was actually a little surprised by the adoration that he received from readers right off the bat. So what makes Kiernan so lovable, and what makes for a great love interest for me in general?

To start off, there’s the best friend angle. Kiernan is Sinda’s best friend—her only friend for a lot of the novel—and, in some ways, he knows her better than she knows herself. I love this in a romance, partially because I’ve always been a little skeptical of the “love at first sight” storyline, which can seem forced if not written by someone who knows what they’re doing, but more because I love that moment when something shifts inside the main character, so that she suddenly sees this boy she’s known for years differently for the first time. There’s also something very satisfying about being able to explore a relationship that has been ongoing for years before the book begins. Closeness can be expressed in so many ways then—inside jokes, small looks, little stories from the past. And then to watch that closeness develop into new sort of bond is just yummy.

The other way that Kiernan really fits the bill for me and love interests is in the way he interacts with Sinda. It’s really important to me that my main character’s love interest be a partner with her, not a savior, and this was especially so because Sinda is (or was) a princess, and princesses traditionally get saved. I didn’t want there to be any “Stand behind me so I can protect you,” or “I can’t let you do anything dangerous because I love you so much.” Though I think we always want to keep the people we love from harm, I become really, really irritated when a love interests gets so bent on protecting the main character that his arms stop being supporting, and end up being binding. I wanted Kiernan to recognize Sinda’s competence and capability and to love her for them (indeed, he recognizes these qualities in her before she herself fully does).

In short, I didn’t want Kiernan to save Sinda, but to stand with her while she saves herself.

So those are probably the two top reasons that I like Kiernan as one half of The False Princess’s love equation, and they’re qualities that resonate with me in the works of others. Not all, of course. But that list would be a little too long, and besides, I have to get to the library. I’ve got two books waiting there with potential book-crushes in them . . .

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hanging by a Thread by Sophie Littlefield

Pub date: September 11, 2012.

Author website.

The quaint little beach town of Winston, California, may be full of wholesome townsfolk, picturesque beaches, and laid back charm, but Clare Knight is about to uncover something underneath its thriving demeanor. Someone is hiding something, and it's as gruesome as the townsfolk, and their stately homes, are stunning. Amanda Stavros, fellow classmate and resident of Winston, is gone and there's no sign of her ever coming back. Everyone says she was taken and murdered, but where's the evidence? Why isn't there a single ounce of proof? And why is everyone okay with this, except for Clare? 

Luckily—or as it's been turning out, unluckily—Clare possesses a gift, an ability to see visions from the clothes she works with. And since her clothes come solely from the townsfolk, Clare has become privy to some startling and disturbing memories of these townspeople. Will she uncover who killed Amanda Stavros? Or is she just moving herself up in line to be the next victim of Winston?  (

Every once in a while I'll come across a book that'll drag me in not necessarily based on the blurb but the setting.  Winston, California reminded me a lot of Santa Cruz.  A bit more sedate, not as hippie-esque, but still a reminder.  Within the context of the story it lies south of Monterey and is three hours south of San Francisco, which makes it a little less than two hours away from Santa Cruz.  Sold.  I just love the area that much that a LOCATION will pull me into a book.  Premise need not apply.

Lucky for me HANGING BY A THREAD was actually a really good book and a welcome addition to a sorely underrepresented thriller market in YA.  Yes, it has slightly supernatural elements: Clare sees people's histories when she touches clothes, something her mother has brow-beaten into her as being bad while her grandmother (also a gift-holder) doesn't feel the same way, leaving a lovely rift in the family.

So while Clare's mom did her best to eliminate this "gift" from her daughter, it's left Clare a bit conflicted.  She's started seeing things in some random clothes she picked up.  And they're horrible things.  And she just doesn't know what to do about it.  The town has a murder mystery that's going to end up destroying it and Clare just might have it in her to solve it.  Except for the fact that she wants nothing more than to fit in in a new, and small, town.  What would her new friends think if they knew about what she could do?  Call her a freak?  Probably.  So not only is she torn about how to use her gift at home, she doesn't even know if she should be herself socially, if people will accept her for it.

I loved Clare.  I loved that she was so passionate about design, that she was so goal-oriented about making her passion work for her and how, at sixteen-years-old, she already as a small "business" selling her wares in her new home.  Her new friends love her style and all she wants to do is make the history of her family (and the supposed haunted house she lives in) go away and she does a pretty good job of it.  It also helps that most of the people she comes in contact with don't put as much emphasis on her family's past as she does.  Really she's just such a wonderful character that it was impossible for me to not immediately get on her side about everything.  And then the crap really started hitting the fan and she didn't have all the answers and actually had to do work herself (loved that! kind of rare in YA, unfortunately) I could actually feel her being torn about things, I could feel her desire to help but at the same time warring with herself about just what she could do.

Her love interest, Jake, I was less than impressed with.  He's set up to have a bad reputation from the beginning which, I think, is a fairly obvious red herring to some extent but he really didn't do much to put the kibosh on any of it.  He was temperamental, snapped at Clare a lot, gave her the cold shoulder after little more than a comment he wasn't thrilled with.  I did like the fact that Clare argued with herself over liking him, about how she shouldn't because there was something off about him.  At least she realized it but ultimately it didn't stop her which kind of irked me.  He did turn out to be a good guy but if it were me just the things he said and how he acted in the beginning would have been a total turn-off and not something I would have pursued.

HANGING BY A THREAD offers its own unique blend of supernatural and thriller to deliver a story that'll keep you sucked in from the beginning.  Balanced out by Clare's will to just have a normal life, it gives the story just enough grounding to keep it something believable as opposed to launching it into outer space.  It won't take very long before you start trying to put the pieces together and try and solve the mystery right along with Clare.  Even if you're not big into supernatural elements, Clare's ability isn't an overwhelming force in the story.  It serves it's purpose and it could have gotten out of control but Littlefield did an excellent job of reigning it in and keeping it relevant to the plot and making sure Clare didn't lose focus of it.  Of course the story wouldn't be what it is without Clare's gift but it moves things along without leading them along.

Just like YA needs more horror, it needs more thriller as well.  A story that focuses on THE STORY, where the main motivation, the main theme, is the thriller aspect.  Not romance, not angst, thriller.  HANGING BY A THREAD delivers not only all of this but blissfully leaves behind the love triangle for something, you know, more interesting.

Ban Factor: Medium - Banners would actually need to read the book to find anything objectionable, like teen murder and pre-marital kissing.  So this could rightly fly under the radar.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Three Delays by Charlie Smith

Published May 18, 2010.

Author website.

Billy Brent and Alice Stephens are star-crossed like all great lovers. Their need for each other drives them from Istanbul to Miami, Venice to Mexico. After years of encounters and escapes, they lose themselves deep in a desert wilderness, searching for a way forward, only to learn that sometimes the trail simply forks.  (

I scratched this one very early on, like a couple dozen pages in early on.  Really, I'm okay with literary.  I can handle it.  But there comes a point in literary where it stops being good to read and starts being a showcase of the author's perceived awesomeness and that's where my eyelids start to sag.  If I wanted to gaze at a naval I'd pick at my own.  Thanks.

Perhaps it was the incessant use of 'waked up' that made me want to murder puppies.  Yes, technically it's correct.  And technically it makes my ears bleed.  I don't know if this was the author trying to be quirky and use a little-used form of 'to wake' to make his writing stand out as OMG EDGE AND AWESOME.  Or if this was a means to showcase the inherent quirkiness of the MC, except it made Billy sound like a pretentious douche.  Either way I just couldn't take it.  After about five instances of the MC being 'waked up' I stopped. I don't care how awesomely quirky it makes anyone look.  I don't care if it's technically right.  It either makes one sound completely uneducated (who actually uses waked up for past tense? personally I'm on board the woke up train) or like a self-aggrandizing dick.  The former would be okay if the MC were actually uneducated.  He's not.  He's traveling Europe, getting high, existentially pondering life and spending SOMEONE'S money doing it.  Which files him into the latter category.  Gross.

Or maybe it was the meandering drug-induced hazed of a "plot" I kept trying to get involved in but it just seemed far too all over the place for me to keep track of.  Billy's trying to get back together with Alice despite the fact that she's married (what a stand-up guy) and his buddy contracted malaria or something and was hospitalized so the poor guy (the MC, not the sick friend) had to hop himself up on his own and there was a lot of drugs and stuff.  I didn't really see much of a point to it all and I certainly wasn't seeing any "star-crossed lovers" going on here.  Just Billy trying to harass some chick into leaving her husband for him.  The relationship looked pretty one-sided where I stood.

Nope, just wasn't into it.  The instances of 'waked up' were enough for me to DNF it but if that weren't a problem the spirograph plot would have kicked me out eventually.  I just didn't give a rat's ass about Billy and Alice was just a voice on the phone at the time I stopped.  Plus whatever plot there was seemed more focused on drugs and Billy dissecting his own thoughts than anything else.  Blah.  Not for me.

Ban Factor: High - Just for the drugs alone.  There are a lot of drugs.

Come See My Literary Lures!

Wastepaper Prose
Today I'm over at Wastepaper Prose talking about what hooks me into a book and what can make me walk away from it.  Be sure to stop on by!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

YAckers Review: The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill

Published April 1, 2009.

Author website.

The Icemark is a kingdom in grave danger. Its king has been killed in battle, its enemy lies in wait, and its fate rests on the shoulders of one girl. Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield, a beautiful princess and an intrepid warrior, must find a way to protect her land from a terrible invasion. She will forge an extraordinary alliance of noble Snow Leopards, ancient Vampires, and ferocious Wolf-folk. She will find unexpected strength in her friendship with a young warlock. And she will lead her allies to victory with her fierce battle cry: "Blood! Blast! And Fire!"  (

Nicole was our Keeper of the Book for this month and she led us woefully astray.  She was the lone brave soul that was capable of venturing to the end of this tome for the rest of us gave up after varying amounts of pages ranging from five to 300.  None of us had too much of an issue with the plot per se but it couldn't seem to get out of its own way and Thirrin just wasn't that likable of a character.  In fact she was a bit of a snatch.  And she's barely fourteen.  Doom on her.

See what we had to say in full on our super awesome website.

Ban Factor: High - Blissfully Christianity free and filled with talking animals, werewolves and vampires, among other woodland creatures.  Not to mention a temperamental teen.  It's all too much!

Author Bites - Deborah Willis on the Shorts

It had been a while since since I connected so deeply with a set of short stories.  I'm talking like reading Flannery O'Connor in college "a while" so I got myself a little giddy.  Despite not being a target audience for VANISHING I liked it so much I asked Deborah if she wanted to stop by.  Imagine my surprise when she said yes!  Woohoo!  While I am looking to branch out a bit in what I read I know it's going to take a while and I'm glad Deborah was okay with helping me do that.  Thanks for stopping by Debbie!

As a short story writer do you find it difficult to quarantine your stories to a snapshot in time? Or is this how they form in your head? 

It doesn't feel difficult at all. I wish I had a mind for stories that were longer if only because the market demands them, but I seem to be drawn now to the shorter form. I don't do outlines, which is maybe part of it. I just start writing, with characters and sometimes a situation or an image in mind. I often write a lot more than I end up keeping, so part of why my work is short in length is because I think editing is at least as important as writing. And I also read a lot of short stories, which I'm sure has influenced my imagination. I'm reading more novels now, with an eye to how they're put together, because one day I'd like to try my hand at a longer work. Until then, I'll keep doing what seems to come naturally, which is short stories.

Are there any plans to extend any of these shorts into novel-length books?

There are a couple of stories in the collection I'm still drawn to, but most feel finished to me. I always worry that the integrity of a story will be damaged if it's expanded. That's something I've been thinking about a lot right now, as I'm writing new work. It's always difficult to know the proper scope for an idea––it seems you often have to actually write it out, then put it aside and come back to it to know how much time and space it deserves.

You wrote from a variety of different perspectives. Is there any particular head you found rather difficult to get in to? Which did you find the easiest? (gender or character, really)

One of the pleasures of writing fiction for me is getting into someone else's head. It's an adventure from the comfort of my own desk! I don't remember having terrible difficulty with any of the characters in the collection––usually if I can't get a voice, I give up or put the story aside until it feels more alive and real. As for writing from the perspective of men, I've never given it much thought and this naive attitude helps a lot! I think that as a writer you simply have to go wherever you're drawn to going, especially in terms of character. And you'll know when it works and when it doesn't. I also always believe that people are people––complex and strange and unknowable, whether men or women, rich or poor, young or old.

That said, the easiest characters for me to embody are often the young women. Lise in "This Other Us" and the sisters in "The Separation" all came to me fully formed and I wrote those stories quickly and easily.

Are any of your stories based on your life experiences at all? 

When they are, the experience is so changed it's almost unrecognizable. I really did live in Alberta when a tornado hit, and "The Weather" came out of that experience. But the characters and their situation were entirely fictional. It's mysterious to me where they came from, but I feel oddly attached to them!

What's in store for your next book? 

I'm working on linked stories all about the same family. I'm at the horrible spot where I've written several of these stories but it's unclear to me whether they work together, whether I'll ever deem them publishable. It's an uncomfortable grey zone, but I think it happens to all of us. The trick is to be honest with yourself, or to have people around who will be honest. My fingers are crossed!

Monday, August 20, 2012

2012 Young Adult Reading Challenge COMPLETED!

Oh hooray!  Another challenge down!  I'm feeling accomplished this year.  Not to mention I'm super close to finishing my Off the Shelf challenge as well.  The one that I failed to complete last year.  Hooray again.  I'm going to go throw more accomplishment at myself.  In the meantime you can check out my YA challenge list here.  Some of those books feel like I read them so long ago but it's been mere months.  Not to mention it helps to have the memory of a gnat on meth.  Or not.

Beyond by Graham McNamee

Pub date: September 11, 2012.

Author website.

Jane is not your typical teen. She and her best friend Lexi call themselves the Creep Sisters. Only Lexi knows why Jane is different from anyone else: Her own shadow seems to pull her into near-fatal accidents. Jane is determined to find out why these terrifying things happen, and to overcome her shadow enemy. Her sleuthing with Lexi connects her own horrors to the secret history of a serial killer.  (

Hooray for YA horror!  Love it.

BEYOND taps into an aspect of horror that involves genuine creep factor.  It's not about how much gore the scary thing can create but just how scary it can be in and of itself.  Personally a shadow, YOUR shadow, that tries to kill you is pretty high up there.

Jane has been subject to a slew of horrific "accidents" all of her life, the most recent of which involve her shooting a nail out of a nail gun and into her head.  All because of her shadow.  Death has surrounded her her entire life.  Literally her entire life.  She was a still born that was resuscitated.  And for as long as she's known her shadow has been there trying to get her to kill herself.  I don't want to give too much away because I think the reasons behind all of these incidents are truly creepy and give new meaning to a near-death experience.  It's not all bright white light and happiness for some people.

Jane's a solid character that you can immediately get on board with as a reader.  Despite all of her insane accidents, and despite the rumors attached to her as a result, she leads a relatively normal life in terms of her own views of it.  She's not paranoid or overtly macabre.  She's grown so used to being so close to death that she's developed a nonchalance about it.  Almost a boredom.  She wants it gone already.   She wants to lead a REAL normal life, not just one where she tries to toe around a piece of her that's actually trying to kill her.

Lexi is the objective third party in the equation.  She fills in the gaps with Jane's lack of vision thanks to her sleep deprivation.  She serves a purpose, really.  I didn't like her nor dislike her.  I really didn't feel much either way.

But kudos to no love triangle and really no relationship at all!  Much to Jane's chagrin but that plays too much into the plot so I won't divulge.

BEYOND is another good addition to the YA horror market, adding in a decent ghost story where there's definitely a hell of a lot of room for it.  It'll make you look twice at your shadow and wonder what it's doing behind your back.  The notion of it thinking at all is pretty horrifying if I'm honest.

Ban Factor: High - Horror gets filed automatically high.  In this instance it's thanks to a killer shadow, a nail in a brain and a creep that buggers boys.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

After the Snow by SD Crockett

Published March 27, 2012.

Author website.

Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone. 

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone -- he doesn't have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl -- but Willo just can't do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?  (

There are very few stylistic things that'll keep me from reading a book.  One is stream of consciousness.  Holy crap, even though we may not thing COMMA our natural thought process still involves pauses and full stops.  Let's use some punctuation.  Another is phonetic voice.  And I'm not talking about a few lines of dialogue; I mean the whole damn book written phonetically.  Personally I think it lends to a very clunky, awkward reading experience that's slow and labored and ultimately has me focusing more on how to say the words I'm reading than the story itself.  This is the only reason why I won't read BLOOD RED ROAD.  I don't care how good it is.  I can't read phonetic voice.  This has been a personal preference for over a decade now and thankfully it's very rare when I come across it.

Imagine my surprise when I open the pages of my ARC for AFTER THE SNOW.  I had zero indication that this could have been phonetic.  Had I known I would have absolutely passed on reading it for review.  It's just not a style I can swallow.  And AFTER THE SNOW is in a very southern voice so after a couple of pages Cletus made his way into my head and wouldn't get out.  I couldn't get past the voice.  In the couple dozen pages I tried to read I can't even tell you what happened.  I don't rightly know.  But the language is so embedded in my brain that I can't get rid of it.

The best example of why I just can't read this -
But he's my dad, like I said, and you got to respect your dad I reckon. My mum got dead when I been a baby still scrieking in my ass rags. That happen a lot up in here when the snow been deep and your breath freeze in the air. But Magda live with Dad now, up in our end of the house. Magda's in charge of the little kids, and I don't envy her that job. If it been me, I'm gonna bash them all.  (ARC page 6)
No.  Just . . . no.  I'm sorry.  No.  Not only is it incredibly stereotypical but it's overwhelming.  I can't read an entire book written like this and be expected to focus on anything other than the pronunciation of the words themselves.

So it's a DNF for stylistic reasons.  It could be the greatest story in the world.  I can't get past the phonetic voice.  Based on how popular BLOOD RED ROAD is I'm guessing a lot of people can.  Have at it, I say.

Ban Factor: Unknown - I could barely get past the words as they were written let along figure out what the hell was going on in the plot.

Added to the Pile + 119

While my posting has become sporadic I do want to make sure I declare any books I receive just to keep the FTC from inserting itself into my bum.  I hear that can be rather unpleasant.  So I did receive a couple of books this week and I'm pretty excited to read both of them.

BLACK BOTTLE by Anthony Huso from Tor -

Tabloids sold in the Duchy of Stonehold claim that the High King, Caliph Howl, has been raised from the dead. His consort, Sena Iilool, both blamed and celebrated for this act, finds that a macabre cult has sprung up around her.

As this news spreads, Stonehold—long considered unimportant—comes to the attention of the emperors in the southern countries. They have learned that the seed of Sena’s immense power lies in an occult book, and they are eager to claim it for their own.

Desperate to protect his people from the southern threat, Caliph is drawn into a summit of the world’s leaders despite the knowledge that it is a trap. As Sena’s bizarre actions threaten to unravel the summit, Caliph watches her slip through his fingers into madness.

But is it really madness? Sena is playing a dangerous game of strategy and deceit as she attempts to outwit a force that has spent millennia preparing for this day. Caliph is the only connection left to her former life, but it’s his blood that Sena needs to see her plans through to their explosive finish.  (
I think it sounds really good except it's a sequel.  So I'm going to have to get my hands on THE LAST PAGE, its predecessor, before diving into this one.  But I'm just a little bit excited.  And the cover makes me drool a little.

THE LOST PRINCE by Julie Kagawa from Harlequin via NetGalley

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them. 
That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’s dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myths and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

My name is Ethan Chase. And I may not live to see my eighteenth birthday.  (
It's part of Julie Kagawa's IRON FEY series.  I'll read it pretty much unabashedly, also most likely with a bit of drool.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Not In My School (15)

Not In My School is a weekly feature that throws out one YA lit cliche a week to compare to my own high school days. Because we all know how accurate those fictional nuances are . . .

The skinny chick that wants to gain weight

I've seen this among guys, especially since guys usually want to bulk up but chicks?  Yeah . . .  As having once been an adolescent female that actually had hips that these characters supposedly vie for, I can assure you I wanted nothing more than for them to go away, especially since I was (and still am) pretty much titless.  Having half an hour glass figure kind of sucks.  Have I come terms with it now?  Oh yes.  I'm fine with it.  I WOULD NOT COMPLAIN if my boobs decided that wanted a belated growth spurt but I'm not about to go out and cosmetically alter myself.

But chicks in high school, last I checked, we ALL wanted to look like this.  We all wanted to be that size two that looked a bit like a twig in a dress.  Of course we all wanted boobs.  But on this body.  Screw hips.  Hips made you fat.  So when I read books about girls that think they're "too skinny" and want to get heavier I can't help but roll my eyes.  I know of ONE girl that genuinely wanted to gain weight because she thought she was too skinny.  And she still is too skinny (and by skinny I mean her doctors accuse her of having an eating disorder) but the girl can clean out a McDonald's and not gain weight.  Some people are like that and I'm sure it can be frustrating.  As it stands I don't know that pain.  I eat a marshmallow and it goes right to my ass.

It just seems to contract the media standard and the gripes people have with teen magazines and skinny models and whatnot.  It's the antithesis of how it was in my school days.  Have the tides finally started to change and younger girls realize that curves really are okay?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vogue Interviews Sandi Tan!

With the release of Sandi Tan's debut novel, THE BLACK ISLE, Vogue has gone and interviewed her, diving deeper into the behind-the-scenes workings of the story itself.  Rest assured I still had the pleasure of hosting Sandi's first interview but Vogue's is pretty good as well.  I'd recommend it.   And the book too.  Can't forget that.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Girls' Nightmare Out!

August starts Tor's Girls' Nightmare Out tour with their #TorChat on Wednesday, August 15th, from 4 to 5 pm EST!  Moderated by Katie of Mundie Moms, you'll get to Twitter chat with Kendare Blake (ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD), Marta Acosta (DARK COMPANION) and Lisa Desrochers (PERSONAL DEMONS) about their books and the YA genre in general.  Not to mention that once five o'clock rolls around you'll find out about how to win each of these authors' latest books plus maybe something more!

So be sure to head to Twitter on Wednesday at 4 pm EST and search for the #TorChat hashtag for your chance to get in on this awesome event.  If you're lucky enough you may even get to meet these authors once their tangible tour commences in California.  I'm jealous already.

Here's to the ladies bringing back the horror!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

And Then My Life Burps

So this past week I was on vacation.  Technically.  Except it was more of a scouting mission.  Last year it was recognizance.  Soldier boy and I have been talking about a major move for over a year now and I don't just mean across state lines.  We're crossing time zones here.  With this last trip it officially cemented our plans and things are now official . . . we're moving!  The blog, it's staying in this space.  We us, we're leaving the land of snow behind.

We're currently here -

Not in either of those cities, mind you, but in this state.  I've officially wanted to leave it since 2007.  Snow sucks, cold sucks, ice sucks, allergies blow dogs for quarters and it's far too damn expensive to live here.  And yay for retroactive taxing.  Thbbpp.

Soldier boy, while not a native like I, has lived here long enough that he too felt the same way.  So we started planning.  And throwing darts at a map, basically.  He was the one that originally threw this state out there.  My initial reaction was, "it's landlocked."  Seeing as how I have an irrational fear of landlocked states it wasn't really on my radar but after the original recognizance and realizing the ocean is a mere four hours away, and a west coast ocean at that, I was pretty much sold.

Adding a cost of living that's literally half of what it is in Connecticut, their record snow fall amount of .08 inches twenty years ago and my ability to surf in non-crappy non-sound water and I was waiving the state's flag.

Except in terms of politics it's pretty much the total opposite of Connecticut.  And I mean total ying and yang opposite, from gun control to women's reproductive issues to blue versus red, opposites.  Yes, I'm a little leery of moving to a state with a hyperactive legislature that passes bills allowing doctors to withhold vital pre-natal information from parents if they believe it'll lead to an abortion.  That's horrifying.  Thankfully Planned Parenthood is on top of that shit like Sally Struthers on cake.  But if the state explodes we'd be bookended by more liberal states that'll help me protect my uterus.  So it's a slightly easier pill to swallow.

With that being said, this is where we're moving, if you haven't figured it out yet and don't follow me on Tumblr or Pinterest -

It was 114 degrees out there this past week and I'm still okay with it.  Why?  Because 114 with 10% humidity is far easier to deal with than 95 degrees with 87% humidity.  Yes, 114 can get really unpleasant if you're walking around in direct sunlight and you do need proper sunglasses that actually function so your retinas don't burst into flames.  But you don't feel like the air is being sucked out of your lungs.  New England can keep it's humidity.  Give me the desert.

So, yes, it's one hell of a move.  Over 2,500 miles of driving across a country that's mostly tinder box.  The preparation has been relatively easy but that drive is going to be pretty awful.  Neat, but awful, taking it in 9 hour clips.  I fully plan on making us stop at the tacky places in the Midwest like the giant ball of twine.  Gas requirements are going to force us to stop every few hours anyway so might as well get the tchotchke in.  Not to mention it'll be just the two of us moving things in once we get out there.  In 110 degree heat.  At least our place is on the first floor.  And the central air will be set to sub-Arctic.

With that being said things might get a little sporadic around here since my belongings aren't going to pack themselves.  And then once we start the drive posting will stop until we have internet set up at the new place.  Our first priority is air conditioning so it'll be one thing at a time.  You'll still see me for the next few weeks but just so you have an explanation ahead of the game as to why my posting will get a little sporadic for the next month.

Life happens.  I'm okay with it.

Things I've Learned from Books + 164

Posted weekly, you get, for absolutely free, a bit of knowledge learned from the books I read. I just couldn't keep this wealth of information to myself. That would be cruel. It will keep your gray matter happy. And happy gray matter keeps it from de-evolving. De-evolving is bad. You don't want to be sludge, do you? Or a fish?

Bitches in bustles can make damn fine vampires.  Sure their skirts may be a bit of a hindrance but that supernatural strength and those sharp fangs certainly make up for it.

WTF is Wrong With This Picture?

Oh hey!  Yeah, I'm back from vacation and I have some MAJOR LIFE-CHANGING NEWS to report but I'll get to that later because if I don't talk about this now my head may explode.

I've been seeing this cover around the blogsophere for a little while now and every time I see it I hear a fork scraping against a plate.  It's just such a nonsensical cover that I end up tripping over it.  I mean this chick might as well put a velvet bag over her head for all she can see.  But super awesome sword wielder!

IT'S KILLING ME!  C'mon.  She's wearing chain mail over her eyes?  WTF sense does that make?  Is her name Charles Bronson because this girl's got a death wish wearing that thing.  Unless this is an elaborate game of pin the tail on the donkey I don't know about.  Not to mention after a while she'd have a forehead that started at her crown and no eyebrows.  OMG this bothers me.  Irrationally so.

I understand authors have very little influence on their covers and as of late covers aren't doing too great of a job matching what's actually in the book.  In that same vein hooray for kick ass female katana slinger on the cover.  Kudos.  Except she's about as effective as Blinkin in that gear.

Hopefully it's just a piece of flare used for the cover and fighters don't REALLY wear chain mail over their faces in this book.  I'm well aware that face guards in general can be a bitch to see through.  Anyone that's been in a catcher's mask knows this.  But . . . that's chain mail.  If she goes in direct sunlight she'll end up with a grill on her face, it's heavy to begin with, it'll rip out every hair within reach and SHE WON'T BE ABLE TO SEE OUT OF IT.  Already this book is at a disadvantage for me because the cover is just downright ridiculous.  That shit would have to be magical two-way chain mail or the MC would have to have x-ray eyes for it to be of any use other than looking bad ass.  Except that badassitude shrivels pretty quickly when you realize she couldn't get out of her own way because of it.  It sounds like a decent book but the cover . . . has me going NO FUCKING WAY already.  Bad.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

On Vacation!


I won't be back until this weekend sometime.  Try not to burn the place down while I'm gone.

Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany

Published September 28, 2010.

Author website.

Jane Austen 

Novelist . . . gentlewoman . . . Damned, Fanged, and Dangerous to know. 

Aspiring writer Jane Austen knows that respectable young ladies like herself are supposed to shun the Damned--the beautiful, fashionable, exquisitely seductive vampires who are all the rage in Georgian England in 1797. So when an innocent (she believes) flirtation results in her being turned--by an absolute cad of a bloodsucker--she acquiesces to her family's wishes and departs for Bath to take the waters, the only known cure. 

But what she encounters there is completely unexpected: perilous jealousies and further betrayals, a new friendship and a possible love. Yet all that must be put aside when the warring French invade unsuspecting Bath--and the streets run red with good English blood. Suddenly only the staunchly British Damned can defend the nation they love . . . with Jane Austen leading the charge at the battle's forefront.  (

I was a little apprehensive to read JANE AND THE DAMNED after my failed attempt at EMMA AND THE VAMPIRES.  One, I hadn't read the blurb in a while so I was under the impression that it was a JANE EYRE remake and two, I haven't been thrilled with the writing style of books set in this era so it was setting itself up to fail for me.  It ultimately didn't and I enjoyed the plot but it had its faults and a lot of that hinged on the writing itself.

I didn't know why this story was about Jane Austen.  You'd think there'd be some kind of relevance to it but it rightly could have been some made-up character created strictly for the book and it wouldn't have made a bit of different.  So I was haunted by the question, "Why the hell is this Jane Austen?" throughout, making it a touch distracting.

That's not to say I didn't like Jane.  I did.  She was a very strong woman that, although reluctantly, embraced her vampirism and used it to fight the French when they invaded (a point to be dealt with in a moment).  She stood her own as a fighter and even as her fellow Damned looked down upon her as not only a fledgling but an orphaned one (her maker having abandoned her and she was adopted by another) she stood tall, pulling off feats that eventually made them proud.

The writing didn't really lend itself to telling the story well, though.  I felt the progression was jerky and I often found myself shoved out of the story due to a ragged transition from one scene to the next.  The language was trying a bit too hard and while I never found it stilted it lent to the crappy transitions that kept pulling me out of the story.

That's not to mention that as I was reading I had a niggling feeling that Napoleon's army invading Britain just didn't sound right.  Did it make for some good drama?  Of course.  Jane wouldn't have been able to become the fighter she did without someone to fight so steadfastly against.  But it didn't seem right.  Love the interwebs as it verified my unsettled thoughts: Napoleon was never actually able to get past the Royal Navy to fight on British land.  Talk about taking gross liberties with history to serve the plot.  It only puffs up the question as to why it had to be Jane Austen as the lead in this story.  I have a big problem with that.  Adding vampires to Jane Austen's life is one thing.  I was entertained by all of that.  But why bastardize history so much?  I don't get it.  Wait, I do get it: it served the plot.  And yes, this book is a work of fiction.  But holy crap Napoleon's army never invaded Bath nor took London.  It's a contrivance of epic proportions that I still just don't understand.  Too many questions and not enough answers.

I did finish JANE AND THE DAMNED, much to my surprise.  I enjoyed it and I ultimately came to like Jane and Luke together but Jane is a little too bi-polar for me.  She changed her mind about accepting her vampirism as often as she changed dresses and it was rough going trying to keep track of where her brain was in terms of not only her vampirism but her love of Luke.  It wavered too much for my liking.  She turned out to be a really strong heroine in terms of fighting capabilities and standing on her own but she ultimately had too much negative about her that, for the most part, cancelled it out.

I was entertained so the book served its purpose in that regard but it's incredibly historically inaccurate, I still have no idea why Jane Austen was the focusing character and the writing leaves a bit to be desired.  If you're looking for a light, entertaining read reminiscent of Austenian works with a bit more fangs and blood and don't have much else to read JANE AND THE DAMNED will probably whet your appetite.  Just don't expect it to do much else.

Ban Factor: High - Vampires and they're shown as hedonistically as possible to make it all the worse.  But our dear Jane has arguments with conscience that might appease the banners, however slightly.

Things I've Learned from Books + 163

Posted weekly, you get, for absolutely free, a bit of knowledge learned from the books I read. I just couldn't keep this wealth of information to myself. That would be cruel. It will keep your gray matter happy. And happy gray matter keeps it from de-evolving. De-evolving is bad. You don't want to be sludge, do you? Or a fish?

Woods are creepy.  This I've known.  But my readings only further solidify my feelings that there's far too much shit in the woods that can hide behind trees and shrubbery and kill you dead.  This is why I'm moving to the desert.  Big open expanse of nothing.  No sneaking, no sleuthing and most saguaros aren't big enough to hide behind and one certainly can't climb them.  I'll take it.
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